Desert stories of harmony

Dr Brydie-Leigh Bartleet, from Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre, presents stories of music students who worked alongside Indigenous artists at the recent Desert Harmony Festival in Tennant Creek.

The Tennant Creek Showcase will be held in The Boardroom, Queensland Conservatorium, South Bank on Wednesday, October 13 at 5pm.

“The project aims to increase students’ understanding of Indigenous culture by providing them with an opportunity to work alongside local Indigenous artists,” Dr Bartleet said.

“The students experienced first-hand the richness of Indigenous culture and developed wonderful relationships with the artists they were working with.

“We’re mindful that to build meaningful relationships with this community we need to visit on a regular basis, so we followed up our 2009 visit again this year.

“I’m grateful to the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre for funding this project with a Research Development Grant, so we can continue building this relationship.

“It’s great to see our relationships with local artists and Elders in this community starting to grow.

“Our students were warmly welcomed into this community, and were told on a number of occasions that events in the festival program would not have been possible without the hard work they did.

“One of the students who travelled to Tennant Creek last year decided to take his whole band back to write their new album, and work with children in surrounding Indigenous communities.

“They’re now the local rock stars!

“That ongoing engagement is so important, and many of our students found the experience life changing.

Cody Butler recounts part of her story, “As an outsider I picked up there are a set of unspoken rules about how to approach situations, how to get things done, and how to build strong relationships and trust with the locals.

“Once trust has been built then you can start talking and planning.

“The pace of life is so relaxed all you can do is go with the flow otherwise those relationships start falling away very quickly.

“Discovering Tennant Creek was a life changing experience, it has changed me forever, all I want to do is go back.

“Watching the way all sorts of people worked in different ways to get the same job done was very interesting and given me new understandings.

“You have to be socially aware and sensitive to different situations.

Students worked on a range of projects including the Mandinka Sound performance and workshop.

The NT Minister for the Arts, Hon Gerald McCarthy acknowledged the students and encouraged them to take the experience back home and share it with their communities.

The Tennant Creek Showcase is a way the students’ experiences are being shared with the Brisbane community.